Paris in 7 Days 9/15/14
**Warning - long post, several sections.
Overall: I did this tour back to back with the 21 day BOE. I knew that the 1.5 days in Paris at the end of the BOE would not be enough and felt I wanted to have a more in depth experience in Paris. I had last been to Paris in, uh…1976. It was hot as heck and all I remember were the smells of dog poo and the pissoirs. Still, I thought I wanted a new look at Paris. At the beginning of the BOE, the guide Dimitri said I will make you love Paris and I was hooked and SO glad I had booked the 7 day tour. So fast forward to this tour and it was terrific! We basically had a group activity in the morning, either visiting a museum or doing a walking tour, then were free for the afternoon. We had 3 meals together, the first night, a couple of nights into the week and then the farewell dinner. One afternoon about 5 we gathered back at the hotel to go for our tour of the Louvre.
Group: This was a smaller group. With a short tour like this the group dynamic is radically different from the 21 day tour. Again, the group was made up of very interesting people but in the afternoons people pretty much went their own ways. There was one other solo traveler and 2 women traveling together, so 4 single women and the rest were couples.
Activity Level/Fitness level: Each day started out at about 9 or 930. One day we may have gotten started at 845. I did not find this tour strenuous at all altho some of the people on the tour found it very tiring. Oddly enough several people got sick and stayed in the hotel for a day here and there. This kind of shocked me as on the 21 day tour altho a cold was passed around the group no one missed a thing. I think you need to be able to walk 3 or 4 miles to be successful on this tour. Montmartre was pretty hilly and of course you have many stairs in the Metro. At Versailles it is a loooong walk from the Petit Trianon and Hamlet area back to the Versailles train station.
Guide: Rolinka was our guide and wow! was she fantastic. She lives in Paris and very much wants you to love her adopted home. Her enthusiasm was contagious. She has a wonderful grounding in history, art and culture which she willingly shares. She had the entire group laughing so hard with her story about when the new enclosed, automated bathrooms were installed. She also cracked us up with her comments into the speaker system and made sure we were courteous tourists and Metro travelers.
Training as Independent Travelers: The greatest thing was having a 6 day Museum card and the 7 day Navigo Metro Pass. That really provided a lot of freedom and encouragement to move around. Rolinka did a splendid job of training us to be independent travelers. We had a Metro lesson the first morning and she tested us a couple of times to see if we had gotten it. One tour member was having a harder time figuring it out so Rolinka had her lead with our help. She got it right away and was completely Metro-independent for the rest of the week.